Attached to each Lowland ACF Battalion is a dedicated team of Professional Support Staff (PSS) who seek to facilitate the Cadet experience. Whilst based at Battalion HQ and not Lowland House, the PSS are very much part of the Lowland RFCA team. For LQ9, we went to visit the PSS at Seaforth House, West Lowland ACF Battalion’s HQ. Andy, Gary, Jo and William were only too pleased to tell us what life is like for them at Battalion HQ.
What do the Battalion (Bn) Professional Support Staff (PSS) do?
Our goal is to facilitate the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers in the smooth running of the Cadet experience. We do everything we can to ensure that CFAVs and Cadets can turn up at training and have everything they need to run a successful Cadet event. Our behind-the-scenes work includes administration, safe-guarding, stores and supplies, vehicle management, facilities management, assistance to training, and communication. The Bn’s training year is geared towards putting on the annual summer camp, and the second we get back from camp, the PSS start getting ready for the next one.
What’s a typical day at West Lowland Bn HQ?
Aside from the day starting with a coffee, no two days are the same. You might be in the office, out at the detachments, in the stores, inspecting ranges, or looking after vehicles, which keeps it very varied. Most weekends see some Cadet activity, which means we spend a lot of our time preparing for those events and then clearing them up afterwards.
How does the geography of your patch affect the work you do?
West Lowland Bn covers a huge expanse of land. Minden Company alone (the Battalion is comprised of four Companies) covers the area from Stranraer to Lockerbie, and then down to Annan. The sheer distance between the detachments and HQ certainly provides logistical challenges, especially in the colder months when travelling conditions become tricky. However, in the summer, there are few more beautiful places to work and travel than West Lowland, so that’s a definite perk of the job!
What impact does having such a large area of responsibility and variable schedules have on the team?
Despite being out and about a lot, as a team we make a real effort to spend time together. For those in the office, we get together and have ‘tea and biscuits’ everyday (a bit like ‘tea and toast in the Mess’ in a military environment). It’s a great opportunity to build team spirit and we also find we get a lot of business done. We genuinely care about each other and do what we can to look out for one another. Most weeks someone brings in some home cooking or baking for us to sample; Gary makes a particularly good cheesecake.
What’s the most satisfying thing about the work you all do?
The most satisfying thing about our work is seeing the impact our behind-the-scenes work has on the success of Cadet training. Witnessing a Cadet come through Annual Camp and achieve something is the best feeling, especially when you know you’ve played your part in it. At the end of the day, even though we don’t see them a lot, we’re all here to contribute to the Cadet experience, and they make it all feel very worthwhile.